I Bought the Wrong Bike

May 22, 2012 View Comments by

Yep, I screwed up, and not a cheap screw-up, this one cost me $8,000 for a bike I loved to look at but was afraid to ride and own. Me, afraid? I, who have ridden every kind and size of machine known to man, afraid? Yes. The shame of it—but yes.

It all started a few blogs back when I bought a 2000 Harley-Davidson FLSTS “Springer,” 1400cc and 800 pounds of pure class from my local Harley dealer. It was stunning; lots of extra chrome, fringe bags, wide white walls, and that awesome chrome Springer front fork. It was pure 1950s and I loved it, it didn’t even matter it was over my budget by $3,000. I had to have it! I even planned how I would intercept the loan letter addressed to my wife, make the payments, and she would never know. Flawless.

I rode my bike home, felt a little klutzy but no biggie; this was just new bike jitters. The weather turned rotten for several weeks running, so I couldn’t ride. But then it cleared and the gang rode out to lunch, nice day and a good ride, so what if the guys had to push me away from the curb? The weather stayed great, but I wasn’t riding. Even my wife said, “Aren’t you going to take the bike out today?” I would make an excuse about being too tired, or not wanting to suit up. This went on for weeks.

Then one day I am standing in the garage looking at the bike, thinking of yet another reason not to ride it when it hits me; I am afraid to move this, stop this, and drop this monstrosity! It’s true, but why?

It’s not a one-answer equation, unless being a test rider I should have known better. First of all, for the last four years I have been “The Trikester” here at RoadRUNNER; all my major tours have been on trikes, so my real two-wheel time has been naught. And believe me, that “use it or lose it” line is true. Second, my health issues have left me with very limited strength in my muscles (much to my distress). Lastly, I took a friend with me when I bought the bike, my enabler, who did nothing to talk me out of it, far from it. After he was done talking, I was sure this bike would cure me and cause supermodels to trample me in fits of lust! It didn’t, and they didn’t.

Mostly, I didn’t have the strength to back-up the bike with my feet; a mere slope would stop me cold. I was afraid to drop it at a stop, and more afraid to look stupid doing it. I just couldn’t “bull it” around. Once on the move, as with all baggers, the weight and balance issues disappeared, but you have to stop and get off sometimes. This was not fun, and the last thing I needed was an $8,000 boat anchor in my driveway.

I summoned up all the guts I had and returned it to the dealer I bought it from. He, being the gracious man he is, took it back and will sell it for me, or take it in on trade. At present I am test-riding several different bikes to find my right fit. The strange thing is that if I were advising a reader, I would say, “Get a trike.” But my wallet does not go that deep, so I am looking at lighter bikes (500 pounds); right now a Sportster 1200 Custom feels good, but I am not jumping at the first bike. I am also doing this on my own: no friends, relatives, or small mammals, just me. Maybe this time I can get it right, and I can still . . . Ride on.

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About the author

A Wisconsin farm boy, I learned how to ride a cow, before a horse and way before a motorcycle. I first started riding on my 16th birthday and I took my first real ride at my party: I pulled a wheelie and dug a trench in the lawn, which sent the bike in one direction and me in another. I was irrevocably hooked!